Wedding Costs: Something Blue? Not With a Proactive Plan to Stay in the Black

Today

You’re engaged! Congratulations! Planning a wedding can be exciting, and the temptation to go overboard to make everything “perfect” can be real. But don’t let your emotions get in the way of financial sense.

Reducing your wedding costs need not come at the expense of lasting memories, however. Here’s how to keep your current goals in check before busting the budget with your nuptials.

Set a Realistic Budget

Do you really have to—or want to—spend almost $30,000 on your special day? Do you want your wedding to put you in debt? It doesn’t have to happen if you set a realistic budget and stick to it. Start by deciding how much you and your partner are willing to spend, including whether you are willing to go into debt, and whether you have friends and relatives willing to pitch in and help.

Once you know exactly how much you want to spend, figure out what items are most important to you and your partner. From location to the dress to whether you believe a full dinner for all your guests truly matters, decide on your priorities. Design your day around the things that are most important to you, and then focus on tailoring your day to fit your realistic budget. By getting rid of the fluff that doesn’t matter to you or your soon-to-be spouse, you can retain the specialness of the day without breaking the bank.

Shop Around

Now that you have a budget for your wedding, should shop around for the best prices on wedding services. Sit down with your significant other and determine what you will need for your wedding. This will give you something to bring to florists, caterers, venues and other wedding service providers. Let the service providers know you are in the process of shopping around for your wedding, and they likely will quote you their best rates. Make sure to get bids in writing and those bids specify what will be done for you.

In some cases, it can make sense to hold your wedding at an all-inclusive venue. Compare an à la carte ceremony and reception to what is available through a reception center. Depending on what you are looking for, sometimes you can do better with a wedding package.

Get Creative

It’s also possible to barter for some of your wedding services. If you have a skill or ability you can exchange with someone else, you can reduce your cost. Do you know someone who makes great cakes? Offer to babysit two or three times in exchange for the cake. Are you a great photographer? Offer to photograph your friend’s wedding in exchange for his flower-arranging skills. Some cities have small-business barter networks, where participants are expert in exchanging services. If you have something to offer, you can make a deal that doesn’t involve money.

Finally, consider which wedding activities you can take care of yourself. Are you a great seamstress and can make your own wedding dress? Even something as simple as making your own reception centerpieces, or asking your brother to DJ the reception from his laptop, can save you money for your nuptials.

Once you think about how to save money on your wedding, you might be surprised to discover that you can create lasting memories without starting your life together with crippling debt.